The City of Searcy will see some major additions in 2017, as it becomes home to new restaurants, the Searcy City Center and a new aquatic center.
The fall semester saw the closing of the Italian restaurant, Pasta Grill, but the spring semester began with the opening of a new Sonic at 2005 East Race Avenue.
However, Searcy will not go without replacements. The old Sonic property on Race Street will house Searcy’s first Jimmy John’s Sub Shop location. Also on Race, Venezia’s Italian Grill, which opened Jan. 10, now occupies the former Pasta Grill building.
Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce President Buck Layne believes that Searcy is only on its way up.
“The city was very bold in my opinion in going out and agreeing to help these companies from a standpoint of providing infrastructure,” Layne said. “We’re thrilled with our city council.”
In addition to places to eat, residents, college students and visitors will be gaining new places to shop with the Searcy City Center.
The Searcy City Center will be located on Janet Drive and the city has negotiated leases with a few major national players, such as: Hobby Lobby, Ulta, Dress Barn, Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, Shoe Carnival and Petco.
The City Center will break ground in March 2017 as a part of “Phase 1.” The second phase is expected to follow immediately with Dick’s Sporting Goods — contract in negotiation.
Weather permitting, Hobby Lobby could be expected to be up and running by the end of 2017.
Senior Alyssa Baker expects to graduate in May of 2018 and experience these changes, and is looking forward to what is to come.
“I’m very excited about all of the new stores and restaurants coming to Searcy,” Baker said. “I’m looking forward to having more options of places to shop and eat, and I think these new developments will just help Searcy grow even more.”
A new aquatic center broke ground in the summer of 2016 and plans to open mid-July 2017, and possibly earlier.
The city and university will both benefit from the additions, as they will add 200-300 new jobs and much more revenue, especially through the inaugural year.
Citizens around Searcy look forward to the growth, but still struggle to let go of stores that have closed or announced their intention to do so, according to Main Street Searcy Executive Director Amy Burton.
“The excitement is often overshadowed by negativity,” Burton said. “However, once people realize that businesses coming and going is a part of any town, they will be just as excited. Great things are coming.”
Amy Burton said other things coming to or already in Searcy include, but are not limited to, the Hourglass Escape Room, Planet Fitness, Beyond Boundaries expansion and relocation, and the relocation of Orr Toyota.